The religious Yated Ne'eman newspaper published the ban on its front page this week, as mainstream Israeli newspapers were gushing about Apple Inc.'s eagerly anticipated new smartphone, the iPhone 5.
Since iPhone 5 was launched, haredi streets and newspapers have been filled with ads and articles attacking the device and its users over the simple access it offers to sexual content.
The decree by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky came ahead of Judaism's holiest day, Yom Kippur, which began Tuesday. It said that it was forbidden to own the smartphone, and those who already had one must burn theirs.
The rabbi added that the devise must not be sold to a gentile and that it should be treated as a weapon.
About a month ago, dozens of rabbis gathered at Rabbi Kanievsky's home in the city of Bnei Brak for an urgent night meeting. On the night the iPhone was launched, smartphones were smashed with a hammer in the city, and about a week ago the head of the Vizhnitz Hasidic dynasty referred to smartphones as a "spiritual Holocaust" and likened the possession of an iPhone to the possession of a bomb.
Israel's growing ultra-Orthodox minority tenaciously guards its traditional way of life against the influence of the secular majority. Many shun TVs and computers to avoid images that break their standards of modesty and values.
Many haredim, however, depend on the Internet for their living. When cellphones with Internet access were launched, haredi leaders called on the public to purchase "kosher" devices – without Internet access. Yet many have found a way to get around the order by keeping two cellphones in their pockets – a "kosher" one and a "non-kosher" one.